Friday, June 4, 2010

This is beyond baseball

On Wednesday evening, I took a nap, which I blame on the Filet-O-Fish value meal I had for dinner. When I sleep, I like to have my phone under my pillow, because one of the things that awakens me is checking my email and Twitter (#realtalk #dontjudgeme). I woke up after the Indians vs. Tigers game had ended, so first I saw tweets from @Official_Tigers about Armando Galarraga's outs: 12 up, 12 down; 15 up, 15 down; 21 up, 21 down; 24 up, 24 down. Then there was a fusillade of tweets from all kinds of sources about Galarraga's last out that should have been, and I knew I was missing something quite serious. I mean, first of all, of all the pitchers who might throw a perfect game, Galarraga?!?! (I should say this about Dallas Braden, but I will follow Jenni's lead and continue to overlook his perfect game on this blog.) I remember being more than annoyed that Galarraga was starting for the game I attended last year in Detroit. But I also remember that he didn't fail that night, that he got the win, that it was the best game I had ever been to, and that it rained the next day when ace Justin Verlander was starting, who I believe took a colossal loss. And second, the call was amazing, not so much because Galarraga didn't get a perfect game on the books that he was entitled to, but because it was followed by some fine human behavior in recent sports. No one says it better than Our National Poet, Ozzie Guillen:
We need to get the ugly flavor out of what happened last night, where everyone knew he was out, and then the umpire come out and said what he said. That part caused one of the ugliest parts of the game to be one of the best ones. I think what they did there was very classy, and I don't know why bad things happen to good people.
I think what Ozzie is trying to say here towards the end is that this is the kind of bullcookie that should happen to subhuman-but-unfortunately-an-MLB-umpire Joe West, who recently called Mark Buerhle on two balks in a game and ejected him for "throwing," or dropping, his glove. Ozzie was fined $7000 for talking trash about West that day when getting ejected, but I think Ozzie is more than happy to pay every penny of the fine. Anyway, this is the kind of behavior I'm more or less accustomed to in baseball.

Later that night, I watched a replay of the call on my At Bat app. I still have a hard time looking at those replays. The look on Miguel Cabrera's face with his hands and mitt over his head breaks my heart, because the corners of his lips are turned up, as if to say that the call is so crazy that it's funny, it must be a joke, hahaha, perfect game, Venezuela's awesome, hahaha. But Ozzie is right, it all turned into great sports feelings. The next day's events were worth a script for a movie that Steven Spielberg wishes he could executive produce: Joyce opted to umpire despite being offered the day off; Tigers manager Jim Leyland sent Galarraga to give Joyce the lineup card; Joyce cried; Galarraga got a congratulatory Corvette; Joyce called Rick Porcello's first pitch a strike. This all makes me feel better*. The call doesn't need to be reversed, by Bud Selig or political figures, because we all know that the game was perfect. Now, this is the time to wrap up my post with a line about the perfection of Galarraga and Joyce's behavior and how though there is no place for that kind of achievement in baseball's official records, there is in our hearts. But I will leave that kind of eighth grade honor roll writing to Jeff Passan. I just hope that from all of this, the image of Galarraga "grinning and patting" the roof of his new Corvette while Miggy "excitedly peers inside" is imprinted in your mind for the rest of your life as it is for me**.

*What did not make me feel better was Bud Selig's decision to not reverse the call, not because I think it should be reversed, but because as I read his statement, I was forced to recall Selig's long, unattractive horse face. 
**Thank you to TBOB reader Andrew who pointed out in the previous post that the New York Times wouldn't stop writing about this event. I read about this scene from this article.

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